Snow Crash by Neal Stephenson. Seminal Sci-Fi.
I had heard for years about Snow Crash and how I should really read it. I am glad I waited. I don’t know how well I would have grasped the denser intellectual tangents of the book at earlier stages of my life. Now that I’m older and wiser it was deeply satisfying.
I am not myself a hard core geek. I have built a PC but I can’t RAID arrays, I don’t use Linux or have any 1ee7 cred. I do know a lot of people who do. So while I couldn’t directly identify with Hiro Protagonist, I recognized in him many, many people that I know. Reading Snow Crash in a world so heavily influenced by it was like coming home to a house I’d never been in before.
The first chapter of the book was incredibly gripping. As Hiro jogged away into the night, my pulse had risen and I couldn’t imagine what would come next. Stephenson’s story and characters are well crafted and memorable. The intricacies of the Sumerian aspect of the plot were hard to grasp at times but not so dense that they effected my enjoyment. I was pleased that the expository passages were well balanced with the action and suspense. As it was, it was hard to get my head around the concepts being thrown around. The final expository chapter felt contrived but was probably necessary to provide a satisfactory understanding of what had been hinted at throughout the book.
At one point I checked the copyright date on the book. In the version I read the author had included an end note that he was not the first person to use “avatar” in reference to our digital representation of ourselves. It left me wondering if Stephenson was really that prescient or if his work was so influential and widely read that the promulgation and realization of the concepts he put forth was inevitable. Much of what he postulated as the future of digital interaction has not come to fruition. With the advent of more and more 3D media and the movement of 3D technology in to the home I wonder how long it will be until his vision is fulfilled.
A must read for the geeks out there.
P.S. A few weeks after I read it I was playing a game online and one of my opponents had the handle “Da5id.” I couldn’t help but gun for the guy. If you are going to name yourself after an elite hacker character in the foremost hacker novel of our time you are either very, very 1ee7 or very, very dumb.